The 2019 SEJ Junior Development Program is off to a flying start with more than 340 players attending an exciting day one at Heatherbrae Reserve in Officer.
Boys from under 13s, 14s and 15s, and girls from 14s, 16s and 18s, took part in the first identification session for the Development phase of the program.
The boys and girls – nominated after meeting a wide range of criteria – will return to Heatherbrae this Sunday December 2 for the second round of identification.
Players selected from the identification sessions will then participate in an eight-week program based purely on development, and be in contention to represent the SEJ in the AFL South East Regional Carnival to be held over the Queen’s Birthday weekend next year.
Players who don’t make the development squads will also be in contention to represent the SEJ at the championships, with further talent identification to take place during the early rounds of the 2019 home and away season.
Players from the Melbourne Next Generation Academy will also be available for under-15 selection once the NGA program finishes in March.
SEJ Director of Coaching Tim McGibney said day one of the program went off without a hitch.
“It was an outstanding start to the program with players with a wide range of skill levels all taking part, and that’s very exciting,” McGibney said.
“Not only do we have boys and girls that have already identified themselves as the elite talent of the competition, but others that really do have potential and now have a great opportunity to develop their football.
“At the end of the day that’s what this program is all about, development, and I think this first identification session has shown that the league is committed to that objective.”
McGibney said there had been many long hours put in by many people to make day one a success.
“I’ve worked closely with Nicole (SEJ Operations Manager Nicole Edney) to make sure we delivered a smooth day, but executing a plan can only be done if we have many people working together as one,” he said.
“The dedication of the coaches has been outstanding and I look forward to working through this exciting process together. Day one went well, but we’ve still got plenty of work to do to ensure we deliver the objectives of the program.”
McGibney, who has worked his own way through the coaching ranks, said the opportunity was there for coaches to develop their knowledge as well.
“The development of the coaches is equally as important in my opinion, because they can better themselves and build a platform for their coaching going forward,” he said.
“I was in exactly the same place not that long ago so I understand how quickly things can progress from a coaching point of view.”
McGibney said he was also looking forward to seeing the personal development of all program participants.
“Without doubt, the whole program is teaching these young footballers, coaches and even the parents the fundamentals for football, the good habits in football, and that’s very appealing to me as a development coach,” he said.
“Having sessions from organisations like SALT (Sport And Life Training) is also going to assist these young people going forward.”
SEJ will also run programs at under 16s and 17s level with communications to be forwarded to clubs before the Christmas holiday period.